The number of new guns purchased in 2020 likely passed the total for 2019 sometime this month. August volume won’t be available for at least another week, although after Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer said in a press release earlier this month—after analyzing July’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) volume—“Our estimates suggest that the market for the first seven months of 2020 now has nearly matched that of the entire year of 2019.”
The FBI processed 3,639,224 NICS checks in July, the third highest on record. Only June and March of this year have experienced a heavier monthly volume in the entire history of the system. After subtracting administrative use, last month’s figure represents roughly 2 million firearm purchases.
Self-defense continues to be the top priority. Records checks related to the purchase of a handgun totaled 1,120,768. Only half of that number were associated with long guns—shotguns and rifles.
Every month in 2020 has experienced an increase in firearm sales when compared to the same periods in 2019, Retailer surveys indicate 40 percent of this year’s purchases were made by first-time buyers, another key factor contributing to the current strain on the ammunition supply chain. Veteran enthusiasts likely have at least a modest cartridge inventory at home if they select an identically chambered gun, unlike those exercising their Second Amendment rights for the first time.
In many areas of the country a NICS background check is not required when the new owner has undergone the additional clearances to secure a carry permit. With nearly 19 million law-abiding citizens currently holding a valid CCW nationwide, the number of firearms sold so far this year may be far greater than reflected by the FBI’s monthly reports.